This picture features Mukti Prasad Das, the pharmacist on site, who is handing out prescriptions to the patients as the GROW team was interviewing him
A happy love marriage. A thriving local grocery store. A soft side for sweet romantic music. These are just a few examples of the many stories and thoughts that were shared when we interacted with the community members over the past four days. These stories had completely eradicated my preconceptions about life, and more importantly, the people in Dhenkanal leaving me mind-blown1. We will be sharing these personal stories throughout the school year, so for now I will be focusing on the action behind the scenes.
On Day 2 of our internship, one of the tasks we were given was to prepare questions to ask the medical staff and patients of Srimula Primary Health Center. As soon as we could, we sat around a table and crafted sets of questions that would give us more insight of their practices (i.e. for staff: do you think you have adequate staffing to best provide care for patients?) and opinions (i.e. for patients: are you treated well at this hospital) as well as questions that would help us piece together their story (i.e. what is your favorite memory at this hospital.). When we finally decided that we had no more questions to add, we all headed to our bedrooms to clear our minds and mentally prepare ourselves for tomorrow (spoiler alert: we weren’t ready for day 3).
8:00 a.m. came and we all had to get up and get ready for the day. At 8:30 a.m. we scurried downstairs for some rice, dahl, and coffee before we hopped in the mobile unit to drive to Srimula. As we ventured deeper into Dhenkanal, were in awe of the lush green nature that surrounded us while singing along to Taylor Swift, and occasionally getting stopped by a casual cow or a herd of goats. When we arrived at Srimula, we were greeted happily by the staff and met our first interviewee: the allopathic doctor on site. We all got into our positions: Leo and David ready to ask questions, Emily and Antoinette ready to take notes, and me ready to collect the media of the interview. He expressed what most staff on site expressed as well: there are adequate resources and staff at the hospital. Also, they have successful methods of reaching the people, for example, vaccinations get delivered at everyone’s doorstep free of cost and there is an ambulance for emergencies. Although, what really stood out to me was his hearty laugh.
The generous homeopathic doctor presented a rose to each of us before the interview and showed us the medicine he prescribes that the government provides free of cost to all of those who are in need of it. We saw the young pharmacist, who we saw interact with the community carefully tending to their needs throughout the interview and said that we must take a selfie once the interview was over (and tracked us all down until he got it!) When we went outside of the office to interview patients, they started gathering around us, curious to see what we were doing and eager to participate in our interviews. They all were very satisfied with the services and resources that are provided, and had opened up to all of us very quickly. All the patients at the hospital came outside to smile for a quick group picture.
The last person we spoke to was the on-site midwife. I could tell she was very passionate about her job because she was so eager to show us the birthing room which consisted of a baby warmer, bed, stool, and various tools to assist with delivery. Before we left, I spotted a painting of a woman holding an T shaped device on the wall of the building that had the birthing room nested inside. I immediately recognized it as an IUD and Prasanta informed us that it was a copper IUD! Although they are not the most popular form of contraceptive, we found out that women who have had at least one child have the option of getting an IUD inserted within 24 hours after the birth by the midwife or doctor.
We gained a lot of knowledge and a better understanding of the health center and public health on day 3 and it only made us more curious and eager to dig deeper. Learn more. Make more connections.
1When I wrote mind-blown in my end of the day evaluation Prasanta asked if I was okay because he thought something was wrong with my head J